I read a lot of intellectual stuff online. But occasionally I find stuff that is absolutely risque/hilarious. Should I blog about it? Generally I avoid doing so – fearing that a family member or future girlfriend or employer will come across this. For a while, I just kept these risque URLs on stumbleupon bookmarks. But it can be fun to share with anonymous readers all the weird/wacky things I come across – just to convince people I am not really a prude.
But when I link to a graduate student’s letter to a sex advice columnist, I can say:
- I am never in danger of overestimating the number of people who actually read my blog.
- As long as a risque post never hovers near the top of my blog, I’ve ok.
- Inevitably, that means I will post several things at once to hide the risque post. So when I am blogging like crazy, keep your eyes open!
This link by the way is borderline NSFW. The reader comments for this advice column were hilarious (and unusually perceptive about graduate school). A few observations:
- Communal advice columns can get mean-spirited quickly. At the same time you learn to discount the mean-spiritedness and appreciate the insights that pop up.
- I don’t regard Slog’s audience as particularly pedantic, but it was clear that the audience was highly literate, liberal-minded and knowledgeable about alternative lifestyles and sexual mores. Very few people condemned the person’s lifestyle choice, just the dilemma posted for the person posting (that may be because it was within the context of an advice column).
- Although Dan Savage has a good head on his shoulders and generally gives sensible advice, I can’t tell you how often I’ve found better advice about the same question from a commenter. The fact simply that it was an Internet advice column suggests that there is no right-or-wrong answer, that honest people may disagree. I find that refreshing.
- Sex advice columns are inherently humorous, because the things which thrill certain people seem strange to others. I like to think I am not easily shocked, but advice columns are about shocking people.
That said, I could not imagine writing an advice column for advice even about something private or embarrassing. It’s not that I wouldn’t have the courage to do it, but that I probably wouldn’t value the opinions of a neutral third party over my own.